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May 28th 2014. By Louay Habib.

Rainbow: beautiful J-Class in action

Louay Habib takes a ride on the 40 metre J-Class, Rainbow at the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta

By 1930, the America’s Cup was contested using the J-Class Rule. The United States had become a world super power and American railroad multi-millionaire, Howard Venderbilt was the undefeated champion of the J-Class era (1930-37). However, most J-Class yachts were scrapped prior or during World War II because steel and lead had become so precious to the war effort. Only three survived. Shamrock V was kept in relatively good order but Endeavour and Velsheda were left to rot in mud berths in the Hamble River before being rebuilt in recent years. In 2000 the J Class Association was formed and several re-constructions were to be commissioned, including Rainbow. The original Rainbow successfully defended the cup in 1934, against Thomas Sopwith’s British challenger, Endeavour.

You can watch original Pathe News footage of J Class yacht Rainbow here.

J-Class Rainbow

The magnificent J-Class Rainbow in all her glory. Photo Holland Jachtbauw.

Fast forward to the 21st century. Rainbow JH2 was re-designed by Dykstra Naval Architects according to the original design of William Starling Burgess and launched in February 2012, by Holland Jachtbouw in Holland. Based upon the lines of the original America’s Cup winner in 1934, this spectacular 40 metre J features a high-end superyacht interior and a unique hybrid propulsion and power system, inside a racing boat hull, all topped off by a grand prix racing deck and rig.

J-Class Rainbow interior saloon

Under the new association rules, all J-Class yachts have a full interior and Rainbow has luxurious accommodation. The saloon is not impressive in size, but features beautiful custom mahogany raised paneling and sublime art-deco features and a formal dining table. The attractively detailed profiles and paneling help define that classic 30s atmosphere on board.

J-Class Rainbow owner's stateroom

The owner’s stateroom is aft spanning a beam of over 21ft due to the gorgeous and space making tumbledown design and there are two en suite twin guest cabins, each with Pullman berths.


J-Class Rainbow lightweight hull

Using the very latest computer modelling to optimise Rainbow’s performance Dykstra Naval Architects have produced a lightweight construction with a high degree of overall stiffness. The design was tested in towing tanks and wind tunnels and the hydrodynamic and aerodynamic data was analysed before the final design was drawn.

J-Class Rainbow

The Southern Spars high modulus mast is 55.5m tall and is equipped with the latest EC6 continuous rigging with TPT (thin ply technology) spreaders to reduce drag. The 18.5m high modulus racing box boom has a rotating gooseneck fitting and carbon lazy jack arms. Lewmar high-speed hydraulic winches complete the high specification rigging package which flies North Sails 3DL racing sails. Everything is entirely customised to Rainbow’s specific requirements and everything metallic on deck has been anodised to create a brushed steel effect.


J-Class Rainbow hybrid engine control

The state-of-the-art Hybrid Power and Propulsion system was developed by Dutch power system specialist WhisperPower BV, making Rainbow the first full hybrid pleasure sailing yacht of its kind. The hybrid solution replaces the conventional main engine and two generator configuration found on other Js. The main engine generator can also act as an electric motor to run the propeller. The batteries can also be charged while sailing without losing more than 1.5 knots of speed. Rainbow can be operated entirely on her Hy-Store Li-ion batteries, including sailing, navigation and house load, which means that under sail, Rainbow has no engine running, whatsoever. The system can turn the main engine and generate energy just from the flow of water under the hull.


J-Class Rainbow crew

With state-of-the-art systems Rainbow can be sailed by a crew of just eight in cruising mode with eight further people accommodated as guests on board. However, when racing Rainbow’s huge spinnaker needs many hands and 28 sailors are often required. Sailing on board a J-Class like Rainbow can be described as the ultimate yachting indulgence, many of the crew on board for Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta were involved in the project and their wonder and passion for Rainbow was evident throughout the day.


Rainbow Specifications

Builder: HOLLAND JACHTBOUW • Architect & Interior designers: Dykstra Naval Architects • Built: 2012 • LOA.: 39.95 m (131.1 ft) • Beam: 6.37m (20.9 ft) • Max Draft: 4.9 m (16.08 ft) • Displacement: 176 tonnes • Sail area: 482sq m • Spinnaker 945sq m • Genoa 438sq m


“It is such a thrill to be able to fully appreciate a design that was last seen in the open almost 80 years ago,” says Tako Van Ineveld – Commercial Director at Holland Jachtbouw. ” This ‘new’ Rainbow took us over two years to build while her predecessor was completed in just 100 days. This does not mean we are slower… It is a reflection of the incredible degree of sophistication that is now contained within these timeless lines.

“The original Rainbow was an empty boat with a deck of sailing gear and a powerful aluminium rig. This Rainbow is a different proposition altogether.”



For more J-Class beauties, see: J-Class Spectacle as Five Yachts Compete at St Barths and Rainbow, Newest J-Class Sailing Yacht.








Louay Habib is a freelance journalist and broadcaster based in the UK who writes for some of the most prestigious magazines and clubs all over the world, including the Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Volvo Ocean Race.